Shopping during virus

It began with shortages of pantry staples like flour and sugar, but the pandemic enabled the makers of packaged foods as well as the suppliers of produce to go up on their prices as restaurants closed.

After almost six months of restrictions and sheltering-in-place due to the coronavirus pandemic, economists are noticing shifts in the cost of consumer goods and services. Lifestyle changes and health-related concerns have altered the ways in which Black buyers are making their purchases as well as how manufacturers are responding. 

Of the responses worth noting are these five rising costs. 

Grocery prices are rising swiftly

It began with shortages of pantry staples like flour and sugar, but the pandemic enabled the makers of packaged foods as well as the suppliers of produce to go up on their prices as restaurants closed. People are cooking at home more. Reopened restaurants are not selling nearly as much food but grocery stores are. Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute notes, “The most recent U.S. Agriculture Department data said since February, beef and veal prices are up 20.2%, egg prices are up 10% and both poultry and pork prices rose 8%. Now, compare those prices to a year ago and beef prices are up 25% while egg prices are up 12%.” To track specific food items or categories, you can turn to the Consumer Price Index

Used car prices are increasing with demand

There is a demand for used cars now that people are uncomfortable with flying, using trains and buses for travel. Autonomy is important and the ability to control the hygiene of a traveling space like a vehicle offers. People are buying used cars though the prices are spiking as much as thousands of dollars over what they would have cost last year. Essentially, this is a great time to sell your used car but it’s a bad time to buy one. According to The Detroit Bureau, a leading reporter of the automotive industry, automobile sales have increased by 17% since June. Car dealerships are promoting pre-owned sales and have initiated more attractive programs for used car buyers. 

Demand for rental cars increase as the cost to rent a car increases

The New York Times recently reported that it can cost upwards of $280 per day to rent a car in Manhattan. (Detroit is said to have the highest rates.) When costs rise by as much as 73% to rent a car in a city that depends heavily on public transportation, imagine how that translates to the rest of us. As demand for used cars increases, the industry is finding a direct correlation in car rentals for daily use as well as travel alternatives, and car rental companies are enjoying a resurgence in interest. Business Insider reports, “With the pandemic ruthlessly weakening Lyft's core rides business and showing no signs of slowing down in the US, the company is expanding its rental-car offering to make up some of the slack.” 

Dental and general doctor visit fees for “infection control”

Uninsured and insured consumers should be mindful of “infection control” fees added onto their dental, eyecare, doctor and urgent care bills. Physicians and other healthcare professionals with a regular clientele are protecting themselves from liability and you, the consumer, from spreading or contracting the coronavirus during routine visits with masks and other essentials used for examinations. NBC News reports that these costs are not guaranteed to be covered by insurers. 

Childcare costs

As schools vacillate about how to start the new school year, many Black parents are planning for the “just in case.” Childcare costs have increased and are an ongoing concern for most parents, but the coronavirus pandemic has added a layer of worry about caring for children during work hours as well as how the costs will be covered. Add the priority and the concern for health and safety. Thanks to the virus, affordable and safe childcare will continue to be a premium yet necessary (and rising) cost. 

Those are a few rising costs for Black consumers to keep their eyes on, the Consumer Price Index contains others, including energy costs. As we approach the holiday season, prices in non-essentials will most likely rise, too. 

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